Rights group: Soldiers left wounded teen bleeding for an hour
Published today (updated) 01/09/2009 20:32
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) issued a strong condemnation of the Israeli army’s killing of a Palestinian child on Monday night.
PCHR’s said that its investigation, which included eyewitness testimony, revealed that the children who came under fire were unarmed and did not attack nearby Israeli soldiers. The investigation also found that Israeli soldiers left the child, 15-year-old Muhammad Nayif, bleeding for an hour before he was treated.
The rights group’s report is at odds with the version of events reported by the Israeli military, which claimed that three Palestinian “gunmen” hurled “firebombs” at Israeli forces, who opened fire on their alleged attackers.
A military spokesperson also told Ma’an that soldiers administered medical treatment to the wounded Palestinian on the scene before evacuating him.
According to PCHR’s investigation, Israeli soldiers stationed at a watchtower outside the settlement of Beit El “opened fire at five Palestinian children who were near al-Jalazon UNRWA School, located near the southeastern entrance of al-Jalazoun refugee camp.”
Muhammad Nayif, was wounded by three bullets to the chest, PCHR said. “An ambulance from Sheikh Zayed Hospital in Ramallah attempted to reach the area. However, the ambulance was stopped by at least 30 soldiers who prevented the medical crew from attending to the wounded child.” This confirmed what Ma'an was told by Palestinian medical officials on Monday night, who also said ambulance crews were barred from the area.
Meanwhile, “dozens of Palestinian civilians gathered on the spot and attempted to help the wounded child, but Israeli soldiers fired tear gas canisters at the crowd." Confirming Ma'an's earlier report, PCHR said an ambulance driver, Usama Hassan Ibrahim An-Najjar, 37, was hit by a tear gas canister in the left leg. Another medical worker, Ali Ahmed Mohammed Nakhla, 29, sustained similar injuries.
Muhammad “was left bleeding for approximately an hour,” PCHR said, before the Israeli army transferred the child into the Beit El settlement and then by helicopter to Hadassah Hospital in West Jerusalem. In the early morning he was declared dead.
The Israeli army has “continued to hold the child's body,” the rights group said. Israeli forces arrested the four children who were with Nayif and kept them detained in Beit El settlement until 3:00am on Tuesday.
One of the released children informed PCHR that the children were “walking normally in the street where the attack took place and that they suddenly found themselves under Israeli gunfire. The boy said that when Israeli soldiers saw the wounded child falling onto the ground, they rushed to the scene and arrested his companions. The soldiers left the boy bleeding without offering him any medical aid.”